41 YEARS OF CAPTIVITY
In just a few months, I will be turning 40 years old. When thinking of all the places I have been, all the different experiences I have had, all the fun, the joy, the laughter, the tears….I contemplate what life must be like for Lolita. I live in a fairly small house, at only 620 sq ft, and there isn’t one day that I don’t have an urge to go outside. Many days go by where I sit and think about Lolita, saying to myself What if? What if my house was empty and I had spent the last 40 years in this same space? What if I was never to see my family for the last 40 years? What if I was trapped here with nothing to do for the last 40 years? What if I was stuck in this little house with no human companionship for the last 40 years? What if several times a day people watched through the windows while I did acrobatic tricks in my little house for the last 40 years? I can’t even fathom What if? I would go crazy, completely out of my mind. This makes me wonder how Lolita has done this for 41 years. The inner strength she must have to continue to survive in that miniscule tank proves to me she has a will to live.
On August 8th, 2011, it will be 41 years since Lolita’s family was forced into Penn Cove, WA by means of speedboats and bombs like M80s. Lolita and over 80 of her family members were surrounded by nets and trapped while the youngsters were chosen for various marine parks. Lolita was one of the chosen ones at only 3-4 years old. She was kept in Penn Cove until September 24, 1970 when she was flown to Miami, FL and placed in an unnatural tank of water, scared and alone. Lolita was to become the “bride” of Hugo, a male orca the Miami Seaquarium purchased two years earlier.
For the next 10 years, Lolita and Hugo performed together until Hugo died from a brain aneurysm on March 4, 1980…..30 years ago! I think back to the What if? What if I lived in this little empty house for the last 30 years of my life without any human companionship. Orcas are known to be one of the most socially complex creatures on this planet. Resident orcas, like Lolita, live and breathe family. They do everything together. What if I was never able to give my mom a hug again? What if I never heard her voice again? Lolita has some Pacific White-Sided dolphin companions but it’s not the same for her. They are not her family. They don’t speak the same language. I’m sure Lolita and the dolphins have formed some sort of communication, but it would be like us communicating with a chimp. It’s just not the same, it’s not family.
Lolita does have an opportunity to see her mother again. An opportunity to hear her voice, see her family. An opportunity to feel the ocean tide on her body once again. An opportunity to be free, free from that tank, free from being an opportunity for people to be entertained. Lolita has a complete, detailed retirement plan that will give her a chance to experience what she was born onto this planet to experience. So many years have been lost but that doesn’t mean that the opportunity could not be given. It brings me back to think about, What if? A few years ago, Jaycee Dugard, was found after she had been missing for 18 years. From the age of 11 until she was found, she was kept in a backyard compound for years, many of which she was locked in a room alone. She had two children by her male kidnapper, both of which lived with her in the backyard compound. What if when Jaycee was recognized, she was not reunited with her family? What if she was told she had to stay in that backyard compound for the rest of her life? What if people said she couldn’t adjust to normal life? Nobody thought in that manner. She was immediately reunited with her mother and family. Why shouldn’t Lolita be given that same opportunity. The Miami Seaquarium owners say Lolita wouldn’t survive. There’s too much pollution in the water. She’s happy in her tank. Really? Did anyone think Jaycee Dugard was happy in that backyard compound? She was taken care of by her kidnappers. She was given food and things to do. But did that make her really happy?
Just because Lolita is not human does not mean she doesn’t feel. Orcas are highly, intelligent, sentient beings who are capable of feeling emotions, capable of feeling love and loss. Lolita has adapted to captivity for 41 years. There’s no reason why she couldn’t adapt to the wild once again. What is needed is supporters, people to take charge and push for Lolita’s retirement. Pressure needs to be made on the Seaquarium and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS). APHIS is the governing agency who oversees the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Besides the appalling fact that Lolita has been trapped at the Miami Seaquarium for 41 years, her tank is illegally sized according to the AWA. The fact that she doesn’t have another orca companion is illegal according to the AWA. The fact that she does not have any shade structure to protect her is illegal according to the AWA. Despite numerous complaints by concerned citizens, APHIS has done nothing to help Lolita’s situation. She needs you. Her family needs you. What if that wonderful person didn’t speak up for Jaycee Dugard and allowed her to continue to live in that backyard compound? Lolita needs you to be the one to speak up for her. Be her voice.
Several cities around the United States are holding demonstrations the week of Lolita’s capture date in 1970. If a city near you is listed below, be Lolita’s voice for a few hours. If your city is not listed, be Lolita’s voice in your city.
Please note that events are on different days throughout the week of August 7th.
AUGUST 7, 2011
WASHINGTON – Penn Cove, Coupeville, Whidbey Island
12 – 4pm – Begins with ceremonial cruise at capture sight in Penn Cove
For more information on the Washington event:
BAY AREA, CALIFORNIA – Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Vallejo CA
1 – 3:30 pm – Meet at the front entrance to park
For more information on the Bay Area event:
AUGUST 8, 2011
MIAMI, FL – Third Annual Walk for Lolita
12 – 5 pm – Meet at the first parking lot after the bridge on Rickenbacker Causeway
For more information on the Miami event:
AUGUST 13, 2011
1 – 3pm - Corner of 4th and Pine near the Water Fountain
For more information on the Seattle event:
1 – 3 pm – In front of the Miami Seaquarium
For more information on the Miami event:
12 – 2 pm
For more information on the Boston event:
LA CROSSE, WISCONSIN
12 – 3 pm – Riverside Park (in front of the big fountain)
For more information on the Wisconsin event:
WESTCHESTER COUNTY CENTER, NEW YORK
1 – 3pm – 198 Central Avenue, White Plains, NY
For more information on the New York event:
Contact: Molly Rickles – firstname.lastname@example.org
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
1 – 3pm – Meet at Harkins Bricktown Cinemas
For more information on the Oklahoma event:
AUGUST 20, 2011
WINNIPEG, MANITOBA CANADA
1 – 3pm River & Osborne
For more information:
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP LOLITA AND THE AWA VIOLATIONS, VISIT HERE:
TO LEARN ABOUT LOLITA’S RETIREMENT PLAN, VISIT HERE: